WHEN I was a child, my grandmother often talked to me about how to pray. She used everyday illustrations to help me understand. If I was worried or frightened, Gram would gently remind me, ``You can refuse that COD package.'' This was her way of telling me that if suggestions weren't good, they couldn't possibly be from God. And I was free to turn them away, just as I could accept or reject any ``cash on delivery'' package the postman brought to my door. This simple analogy has continued to be a help to me over the years. One ``package'' that I find often needs to be examined carefully before my accepting it -- and paying the cost -- is any prediction based on statistics.
In assessing the time it might take to sell a house or what prospects there are for finding a job, people are often influenced by statistics. A couple putting their house on the market, for example, might be told that it will take a year to sell because of the current inventory of unsold homes. A job seeker could be cautioned to expect to look for six to nine months -- or longer -- before finding a new position. There is, of course, practical wisdom in being alert to economic trends. Yet nothing can substitute for spiritual intuition and heartfelt prayer in assessing our prospects.
My husband learned this lesson recently when he was laid off from his job. Career counselors and recruiters frequently told him how many people in his field were pounding the pavement just as he was. Predictions were made about the number of months he could expect to be unemployed. He was told at one point that the possibility of his finding a position at all was slim.
Though he was discouraged at times, my husband continued to pray and to reject the predictions of statistics. A new student of Christian Science, he was learning to identify the real man as a spiritual idea created by God and to recognize that every one of God's ideas is indispensable to, and cared for by, Him.
Christ Jesus tenderly counsels: ``Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.... Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.''1 This concept reassured my husband, and he was able to go forward more hopefully.
He didn't stop diligently taking the steps necessary to find a new position, but he gave priority to getting better acquainted with the Bible and to studying the weekly Bible Lesson found in the Christian Science Quarterly. He endeavored to put into practice those qualities taught by Christ Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount -- qualities so important in preparing thought to receive Christ, Truth. And when the situation seemed particularly bleak, he asked an experienced Christian Scientist to pray with him. Within three months he was recruited for a position offering the same salary he had previously earned, with opportunities for continued training, promotion, and progress.
How important it is to guard against accepting defeating, limiting predictions, and to understand better how God -- not chance or statistics -- governs man! Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, counsels: ``Stand porter at the door of thought.''2 And the Bible records Jesus' command ``What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.''3 If we persist in our efforts to understand God and our relation to Him, we can be certain of finding satisfying answers to our prayers.
1Matthew 10:29, 31. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 392. 3Mark 13:37.